The high cost of owning a house in a security estate

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Whether you buy a freestanding property or you buy in a gated estate, home ownership in townships, suburbs and towns comes with a set of monthly costs such as municipal utility bills, electricity bills and every home owner in these areas has their fair share but did you know that over and above all these costs, a home owner in gated estate has added monthly bills?

Owning a home in a security or lifestyle estate can give you a sense of security because of the high crime rate in South Africa but comes with a whole set of expenses in the name of levies and they can be anything from a thousand to thousands of rand ( amount varies from area to area and the amount is decided by the body corporate or managing agent of the community. The levies cover maintenance and overall security of the estate but you need to be aware of these costs before you buy and unfortunately not all the estate agents will disclose all of them.

I remember when my husband and I bought our first stand in a security estate a couple of years ago in the Northern part of Pretoria. We were thrilled to have snatched it not because it was a bargain just under R 200 000 but the place was amazing – or at least the design at the main entrance by the guard house because it was a new development and still very much empty. 

We started paying municipal rates immediately after the title deed registration and never thought we would be expected to pay levies for an empty stand especially because our agents never said anything about them, he only told us we were expected to start building no later than 12 months and so we thought that maybe we will start paying levies then. Little did we know that 6 months down the line, we’d receive a very fat R15 000 bill from the homeowners association – a very painful shock and our first question was, “who is the home owners association because no one has moved in to their homes yet the first few houses are still being constructed? why didn’t the agent mention this so we can start paying the monthly bill as from the onset? Why is the home owners association only sending the bill now?” We had so many questions but the fact remained- the R 15 000 still had to be paid or left to grow even bigger each month.

Always ask all the important questions such as;
  1.  The current levy and rates
  2.  Whether or not pets are allowed into the estate
  3.  Whether or not you are allowed to build your preferred kind of building design or there’s a specific design plan you have to stick to?
  4.  Can you install prepaid meters for your home?
  5.  Can you plant trees in your yard?  
  6.  The wall paint etc
      before buying into an estate even if you are buying an empty stand because as much as it is the responsibility of the estate agent to provide you with all the information, sometimes they just never do and you will definitely pay for it and I mean literally. 

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